Teach me and you can teach anyone!

Hello People!
Please excuse my lack of knowledge and understanding of Ethereum and probably crypto currencies in general for that point. I am a good old fashioned manual labourer, a traditional carpenter by trade. I would say i am fairly switched on, no academic genius but i don't think i miss much. I am a musician, a songwriter, i sculpt, and i'm pretty good at general Maths etc but i certainly am missing a trick here! I began to educate myself on BTC about a year or so a go, and although i kind of get that, i really am struggling with this. So if anyone kind of feels like trying to help a lay-man understand this somewhat exciting movement, i am all ears, and i am sure my entrepreneurial, inquisitive mind can come up with something outside of the box, and help those of you with the knowledge to better communicate that to us 'standard-breed' Many thanks! ;-)


  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    Well, in a very quick nutshell:

    When you use facebook, a bank or dropbox you basically agree to 'trust' them with your data or your funds.

    For example, when you put money in the bank, you don't think about it, but what you're actually doing is trusting the bank to not: a) steal your money b) lose your money.

    When you upload a file on dropbox you trust dropbox developers to a) not give your documents to the government b) not to read your documents

    In fact, when you give this is a bit of thought, it's very scary: absolutely every service we use today is based on implicit trust. And more often than not, an awful lot is at stake without having any view as to what was put in place to protect your money or your privacy.

    You only need to look at what happened at mtgox to realize how bad things can get: for years, mtgox users trusted the exchange to not lose their bitcoins, to conduct independent audits, to not operate a fractional reserve, to regularly test their security. None of this seems to have happened, and now 700K bitcoin have 'disappeared'.

    So where does Ethereum fit in all this? Well look at how bitcoin itself handles its 'balances'. There is no bank to hold your bitcoin, no central issuing authority. Bitcoin allows you to be 100% in full control of your funds, and be sure of what you own and what other own by using something called 'decentralized consensus'.

    Ethereum borrows the concept of decentralized consensus that makes bitcoin so resilient, yet makes it very easy to build applications leveraging that concept, applicable to almost any domain - not just currency.

    In practical terms, a decentralized exchange build on Ethereum would never have been able to do what mtgox did. In fact, even if the exchange 'frontend' was to disappear or be shut down, the user funds would still be safe.

    Again, it's not limited to money: Ethereum is both a platform and a programming language, so it can be used to codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything: voting, domain names, financial exchanges, crowdfunding, company governance, contracts and agreements of most kind, intellectual property, and even smart property thanks to hardware integration.

    I hope this helps, feel free to ask more questions!

  • MilanMilan San Diego, CAMember Posts: 46
    I'll give it a go as well.

    What a lot of these technologies do is replace trust in people with trust in math. Rather than trust a middleman (who could steal, blunder, or be compelled to act against your interests), we trust thousands of number-crunching nodes (computer programs) that all keep an eye on each other, and agree on what the network should accept as reality. Modern cryptography along with an incredibly brilliant plan by Satoshi Nakamoto have made amazing things possible.

    This distributed network can be a fully-functional financial ecosystem (bitcoin, altcoins, etc.), but that's not all it can be. Namecoin was this, but also a distributed DNS system, replacing a centralized (corruptible) nameserver with a distributed network. Ethereum takes things to a whole other level, enabling you to program a will, trust, corporation, or almost anything you want, right into your money itself.

    If you wanted to, you could design a spending account for your kids. They could add money freely, but they could take out only small amounts (however you want to define that: less than $10, or under 1% of the balance). To withdraw more, they need to ask permission (have either parent co-sign the withdrawal), unless they are 18, or 21, or 25 (again, whatever you set). No lawyer or accountant needed to set this up. And no judge or government agent can order a change in the contract, or seizure of the funds therein.

    Hope I'm not going full fanboy here, but this technology is already changing the world.
  • EtherBrokerEtherBroker Member Posts: 6
    Hello longerco,

    Well I can TRY and explain it a little, and you can tell me if it helps.

    Bitcoin proved that blockchains work, that you can build a network that 'has so many eyes on it' that the people interacting on the network don't have to trust each other.

    But bitcoin is not that much different than email. You have an address that you can receive data with, and you can send to other addresses. When you press submit, the transaction cannot be reversed.

    Email is an incredible tool, and it has added a lot of value to our lives. So you can think of Bitcoin as a very modern, secure version of email, except with dash of magic when Satoshi divided the service into 21 million units with the value of the network backing this new currency.

    Well Ethereum (and others) would like to make the http protocol of the blockchain era.

    Instead of just sending emails to one another, we could interact directly with each other but also with a computer language developers can use to make our peer to peer contact richer the same way that the http protocol makes the internet experience richer.

    Further, all computer languages we've ever heard of, C++, Basic, Java, etc.. They are all Turing Complete Languages. We all know that digital data is all 1's and 0's, but programmers are not coding in 1's and 0's, they are using computer languages to build applications.

    So, basically Ethereum wants to take two concepts that we know and love, computer languages and the blockchain, and marry them together.

    It is impossible to know how successful Ethereum will be, or how successful their competitors will be. What is important though, is that there are so many innovators in the crytospace, and many intelligent people are inventing similar products, and spreading the talent thinly across many different projects and many different networks. Unfortunately, some of these great products will fail because the marketplace is way to confused to adapt to 15 different projects today (and 10 new ones tomorrow).

    If Ethereum is successful, almost all innovation will take place in the same ecosystm, it will unite the crypto community under "one roof." This would be a great benefit, and almost overnight I think we will see the talent that is so spread out and confusing today to be focused like a lazer in one computer language in one ecosystem.

    That would add incredible value.

    I don't have a good technical understanding of the project but I tried to describe it as best I could and I look forward to hearing any corrections and because like longerco I would like to be able to conceptualize this project and describe it to non-programmers.

  • MilanMilan San Diego, CAMember Posts: 46
    @EtherBroker I really like your laser analogy.
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